Mark Goodson / The Miracle of the Mundane
One Night In Venice Beach
Coming to from a blackout is always interesting.
You are thrown from an unconscious state into a Law and Order episode. You have to investigate what you did the night before. You are investigator and criminal all in one, which makes your interrogations a little awkward.
“So, this person who offended you last night—”
“Right, me. Did you see me leave the party afterwards?”
“What do I care?”
“Just the facts please. I need to discover how I wound up three counties over asleep in that apartment hallway.”
There was no questioning the morning I woke up with my jaw broken. Questions are hard to ask with a two-inch fracture of your mandible bone. Caked blood crunched as I opened my lips and felt a searing pain course through every nerve. No time to piece it together; I just needed to get on that surgical gurney as fast as possible.
There are such traumatic incidents that can really separate the alcoholic or addict from the problem drinker or user who is able to change his or her ways. It didn’t serve as the wake-up call I needed.
I was paid by the hour, and in order to afford my expensive drug habit, I was back at work the next day after surgery. My jaw was clamped shut with wires. I was also prescribed hydrocodone to help the pain.
The doctor cut me off after I requested my third refill in three days of a supply intended to last me three weeks. Last bottle in hand, I had to manage the sudden shortage.
I did what any normally functioning addict would do, I rationed.
I didn’t take any doses during the day. I went to work in immense pain. A mere whisper rattled the rod that kept my jaw together. I didn’t show the pain, and I hoarded the pain-killing medicine for the night. If I took a day’s worth of doses, I could get that feeling back; I could get high. And that summarizes my relationship with drugs and alcohol. I can endure any pain to get high.
I don’t take pain medication to medicate. I never drank to ‘take the edge off’ or just feel a little more comfortable. I drank to get drunk.
I never did get full feeling back on that side of my face. The partial sensation reminds me of the night I will never remember.
Wedding Day (3 years later)
My wife and I chose to not see each other before she walked down the aisle.
I never saw her dress, or how she did her hair before she stepped through the doors of the chapel. There are a few moments in my life that I can recall as if I’m flipping through a photo album; they glow in my memory in perfect detail. The first time I held my son, my daughter, and seeing my soon-to-be-wife walk down the aisle are all included are on that list.
The thought of my wedding day nearly caused me to relapse in early sobriety. I’d see a girl and think:
“She’s cute—I wonder if her parents would like me—We’ll get married in the country—I’ll raise a toast to her—Wait—What the hell am I going to raise a toast with?—Soda? Water?”
I jump to extremes easily. I would never think to ask her out for a cup of coffee. The extreme thoughts persist: “If I’m going to have a drink on my wedding day—clearly I will need to then—why not have one today?”
But I managed to stay sober that day, and for the subsequent 3 years leading up to the day I got married. The toast went fine. I can remember what I said when I raised a toast to my wife: “I can’t wait for our future to happen, for us to build a life together. But what I’m most looking forward to, is waking up beside you tomorrow as your husband.”
One thing I don’t remember about the night was what I toasted with—some non-alcoholic drink. But it just didn’t matter. What mattered was what I was doing, not what or how much I was drinking.
I can play the night through in my mind with great clarity.
I wake up nowadays and whether or not I want to get out of bed, I know who I am, what I’ve done, and where I’m going.
And when I feel tempted to drink or use, I only need touch the left side of my face, feel a partial tingle and remember what one drink or drug will do to me.
While a broken jaw should have meant rock bottom, it took a psychotic break in Mexico for Mark Goodson to want sobriety.
Now in his 8th year of continuous recovery, he celebrates the simple joys of sober life on his website. He also raves, rants, and reflects on life as a husband, father, and teacher. A poet until he ran out of money, he now teaches English, raises two children with his wife and blogs at The Miracle of the Mundane.